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Republican establishment looking for ways to keep kooky candidates at bay

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The civil war currently raging among America’s Republicans seems unlikely to fade any time soon, which, of course, is good news for us progressives.

The latest developments on the battlefront are detailed HERE:

Leaders of the Republican establishment, alarmed by the emergence of far-right and often unpredictable Tea Party candidates, are pushing their party to rethink how it chooses nominees and advocating changes they say would result in the selection of less extreme contenders.

The push comes as the national Republican Party is grappling with vexing divisions over its identity and image, and mainstream leaders complain that more ideologically-driven conservatives are damaging the party with tactics like the government shutdown.

The debate intensified on Wednesday after Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, the deeply conservative Republican candidate for governor of Virginia, lost a close race in which Democrats highlighted his opposition to abortion in almost all circumstances, his views on contraception and comments in which he seemed to liken immigration policy to pest control.

The party leaders pushing for changes want to replace state caucuses and conventions, like the one that nominated Mr. Cuccinelli, with a more open primary system that they believe will draw a broader cross-section of Republicans and produce more moderate candidates.

Similar pushes are already underway in other states, including Montana and Utah, and last week Mitt Romney said Republicans should consider how to overhaul their presidential nominating process to attract a wider range of voters. He suggested that states holding open primaries be rewarded with more delegates to the party’s national convention.

While the discussion may appear arcane, it reflects a fierce struggle for power between the activist, often Tea Party-dominated wing of the Republican Party — whose members tend to be devoted to showing up and organizing at events like party conventions — and the more mainstream wing, which is frustrated by its inability to rein in the extremist elements and by the fact that its message is not resonating with more voters.

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